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Preserving History: The Role of the Engineer in Historic Preservation

Updated: Sep 5

At Ozer Engineering, our passion lies in preserving the structural integrity of the historic buildings in our region. With great pride and dedication, we take part in the extensive renovation project of the esteemed Lowenstein Mansion, nestled in the heart of Memphis's Victorian Village. Working alongside architect Andy Kitsinger and folk-hero developer Bill Townsend, we are committed to breathing new life into this cherished landmark while honoring its rich historical significance.

Lowenstein mansion undergoing historic preservation to co-work space
Lowenstein mansion undergoing historic preservation to co-work space

Our Developer Historian: The Lowenstein Mansion, a richly detailed mansion built in 1890, then expanded and converted in the 1930s to serve as a boarding house for working women, has held a coveted place on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. Recognizing its timeless charm, William "Bill" Townsend of Townsend Development, the mansion's new owner and a historian, envisions a dynamic co-work facility needed as suburbanites leave their homes for the tighter confines of urban living. Collaborating closely with Kitsinger and our team at Ozer Engineering, Townsend's commitment to preserving the mansion's heritage while infusing modern comforts is commendable.

Our Architectural Expertise: Led by architect Andy Kitsinger, known for his expertise in historic preservation, the renovation of the Lowenstein Mansion is a testament to the seamless blending of architectural elements from the past with contemporary design. Kitsinger's meticulous attention to detail ensures that the restoration maintains the mansion's authenticity and charm and embraces the functionality required for modern living. Working hand in hand with Kitsinger, our team at Ozer Engineering combines technical expertise with a deep appreciation for historical preservation.

Ozer Engineering's Structural Role: Ozer Engineering has taken a holistic and thoughtful approach to Lowenstein Mansion's renovation. This meant first using our understanding of historic buildings to analyze the load forces and how the building has performed over time. Then, we proposed multiple solutions and assessed their pros and cons with the team. This expertise in structural integrity led to the decision to design a complete internal timber frame capable of supporting the floors and roof. We introduce new CMU shearwalls into the structure to ensure the mansion can withstand wind and seismic loads. The existing brick façade will be preserved throughout the restoration, serving as a visual reminder of the mansion's rich history while maintaining its structural integrity. See more about the progress of this internal timber frame design here.

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